Her gritty performance in a thrilling three-set victory against world no. 76 Karolina Muchova showcased her fighting spirit as she never gave up despite nearly losing her lead in the decider.
Previously, Muchova and Rybakina met once and it was also in the United States. In 2019, the Czech beat current world no. 10 at the US Open and with her good run in Indian Wells, she certainly entered the match with a lot of confidence.
The opening set was a closely contested affair, with both players displaying their full array of shots. Rybakina's powerful groundstrokes seemed to match up well against Muchova's all-court game. The set remained on serve until the very end, with neither player able to establish a decisive advantage after many break points and even a set point for each player.
Therefore, the tie-break had to be played. Muchova got the first mini-break, but she couldn't keep her advantage as Rybakina showcased her full repertoire of shots to win the tie-break 7-4, taking the crucial first set.
However, Muchova roared back in the second set, exploiting Rybakina's momentary lapse in concentration. The Czech player's clever shot selection and caught the Kazakh off guard, allowing Muchova to quickly seize the momentum. She raced through the set, winning it 6-2, and leveling the match at one set apiece.
With both players knowing the importance of an early lead in the deciding set, the tension on the court was palpable. Rybakina managed to regain her focus, producing several thunderous serves that left Muchova scrambling for answers. A crucial break at 1-1 gave the Kazakh the edge she needed.
Rybakina could finish the match already in the ninth game on her opponent's serve as she had two match points, but she couldn't use those. On her own serve, she then faced a 0-30 deficit and Muchova was looking to come back. But the Kazakh held her nerve in the closing stages to secure the final set 6-4.
Rybakina's victory sees her continue her impressive form since capturing her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon. With a spot in the Indian Wells semifinals now secured, the 23-year-old has her sights set on further history, as she aims to become the first Kazakh player to lift the trophy in the California desert.
After the quarterfinal battle, she can expect yet another fight as she will probably meet the world no. 1, Iga Swiatek in the semifinals. The two already met once this season, and until today, Rybakina is still only one of three players to beat the Pole in 2023.